I´ve noted that many tales from the road seem to end abruptly when the physical journey is done... and that makes a lot of sense, but I am often left wondering about the aftermath. What happened to that particular character? How did the protagonist feel about their achievements some months down the road of life? How did they get back into the day to day swing of things, or did they simply turn around and head off somewhere new?
And, indeed, I don´t necessarily feel that my own “...journey in search of direction...” ground to a halt with my arrival back home in sunny Barcelona. I have been thinking about what I have done, why I did it... why did I do it? ... and what effect it has had on me, and how I will take that with me through the rest of my life. Before I headed off, I was told by some who have been and done that the journey would change my life... I must confess I scoffed a little (inside) at such statements. I am reminded now, as I reflect, how right they were.
Perhaps I have been thinking too much. Perhaps I should simply park the memories in that corner of my mind, for revisiting on cold and damp days. Perhaps I should be setting my sights forward for further adventures. But, I´m sorry to report, that is not necessarily me. I am, therefore, driven to wrap up this section of my trip tales with an epilogue, where I explore the impact of such a mammoth journey and how I have managed to return to earth without too much of a bump. I hope you will stay with me through this final leg.
So where do I start? So many thoughts running around my mind on return home, the first of which fuelled by a small degree of fear, as reported in the final trip episode. Why on earth I felt that way was a mystery. Mrs Pat had done nothing but pour love and support in my direction from the outset of this project. But it was nevertheless there, and I should acknowledge that. Despite the wonders of Skype and mobile technology, it remains the case that we both spent quite some time out of contact, and out of the habit of sharing our daily woes. When you decide to spend a life together, not spending it together becomes alien, and I think it was that which tossed tinder into the flames of my unsettled emotions. Each traveller on return will undoubtedly feel different – we are all different people after all – but I am pleased to report that my worries were well and truly unfounded.
They say that absence makes the heart grow fonder... don´t you just hate such clichés? Even more so perhaps when they prove to be true. My time away made me realise with crystal blue clarity what I have at home, and I record that lesson here lest it be lost. After close to 20 years together it is easy enough to accept your life partner, for better and for worse, but perhaps also without much real thought. This trip has given me the opportunity to revisit who we are and why we (usually) work well together, and what I value most. It has also given me the time and perspective I was looking for to put my own head in order. I feel I have done that, and I feel a greater closeness and understanding at home... something I value more than the chance to see more of this wild and wonderful world... but only just!
I also find myself being more reflective and thoughtful of late, and measuring my life and opportunities I have seized, and wasted, against those available (or not) to the people I met on that long journey north. I often say I am a lucky guy, but perhaps it is only when you open yourself up to others can you really sense the truth in that. Travelling alone across continents for months on end forced that process in me, and I very much hope I do not lose that perspective as life and the daily grind takes hold again. What we have far outweighs what we have lost. A message I plan to keep close to my heart.
And, equally, what we do does not necessarily have to revolve around our own needs and desires. The generous giving I experienced from people with comparatively little has, since my return, impacted on my being more greatly than I had envisaged. If they, without so much as a thought, can readily offer their time, energy and resources – then surely I can do more. People, on seeing that I was alone (and at times I was feeling it strongly) readily shared their time with no desire other than to lift spirits and help me feel more at ease in their world. Powerful stuff indeed. I can now see that the feeling I felt when in receipt of selfless acts can be imparted to others, and that I personally should do more... and that I will do more. We are already discussing how we can make a difference and translate these reflections into more concrete measures, if only on a small scale. A new journey in life awaits. A man once said, “do the little things”, wise words indeed.
Talking about journeys, Idris had a much longer one than I, though it did indeed arrive back in the UK safe and sound. My thanks to James Cargo for their support and service. Though having to wait some 2 months for the return of the bike was more of a struggle for me than I had anticipated. I missed the two wheeled freedom within weeks of my return to Europe. This was eased somewhat with spending many weeks in the UK catching up with family, friends and (yep) work. I wasn´t going to miss, for example, the Adventure Bike Rider Midlands Rally weekend, even if I had to hitchhike. Though, despite the very generous offer of some wheels for the weekend, it did seem rather odd chatting to old friends and new about the trip when the trusty steed in question was still in a box heading around the world... the wrong way!
Needless to say that on Idris´ arrival back in the UK, I took the opportunity to ride out to see friends again, before heading down through France and home, where Idris will remain until warmer weather returns to the north of the continent. There are, after all, many roads in Spain left to travel – and I hope to be doing as many as I can over the months to come.
The committed few who have followed these ramblings over the last year or so will recall that I had a few falls, most notably one in Argentina that left me in pain for some time. I´m happy to report that I am relatively pain-free now, though I felt the need to get checked out properly on arrival back in the land of the paella. In case you are wondering, my clicking knee is nothing more than that, and with a bit of regular exercise should hold its own for many years to come. My back, which was more of a worry, is now displaying a herniated disk – which looked a lot worse on the MRI than it feels.
I am reliably informed by competent specialists that the physiotherapy that I am undertaking will be sufficient to strengthen the muscles in the area and take the load off the spine. In short, a few minor worries that may limit my trail riding in the short term but, overall, a small price to pay for the experiences and wonder I drunk in through this amazing journey. Idris also requires a bit of TLC, which it is now getting in readiness for more adventures to come.
Ride safe, and may sun always shine on your bike (it does on mine!).